For the first of what I hope will be several blogs, tips and stories, I figured I would write what to me, seems like the perfect introduction. I’ve always been asked this same question, whether it be at a bowling function like bowling school, or sitting around with friends that have never taken up the game.
“Why do you bowl?”
I think for myself at the beginning, it was pretty clearly a family thing. My parents were both active bowlers, and my grandparents before them. I grew up in the bowling alley. I was around the game so it was natural to have taken up the game myself. I remember the family outings to Mohawk Lanes down the street from my parents house in Hamilton. I still remember the score tables with the track ball, the dim lights and the tiger stripe house balls. The bowling alley has since long disappeared but the impact that place had is still strong.
If I really take a step back and think about it, that is still a main reason, but it’s not a clear cut winner anymore. It has, over the years, evolved into something much bigger. I still after 28 years of bowling, enjoy the game. More importantly, I enjoy the people associated with it. I’ve frequently heard from people that no longer play events such as Masters or the Open don’t miss the game as much as they miss the people. Every year I go out and try to qualify for the Open. While winning has always been a top priority for me, I think seeing those familiar faces each Easter at our provincial Open is a greater factor to me. Winning medals and trophies is great, but it’s the people that create the memories. My childhood friends have come and gone and my high school friends have come and gone. While some of my bowling friends have disappeared over the years for various reasons, many still remain seeded in my life. I think that has a lot to do with the people, but a lot more to do with the game itself.
Imagine this scenario: At a baseball game, a batter steps into the batters box against an opposing pitcher. The pitcher heaves the ball past the batter, with the batter waving at the ball helplessly as it lands in the catcher’s mitt. “Beautiful pitch” the batter proclaims to the pitcher as the catcher throws the ball back. “Don’t worry, you’ll hit the next one out to right field” replies the pitcher. The pitcher launches in another pitch and the batter connects, hitting a home run. The pitcher applauds the batter as he rounds the bases, and meets him at home plate to shake his hand.
Sounds wildly far fetched doesn’t it? But if you take the same idea and apply it to the game of bowling, it’s something that is seen as frequent as on a daily basis. Bowlers high five their opponents after frames both good and bad. In victory or defeat. That’s the type of thing that quickly creates a closeness amongst competitors all the way up to the national level. We are trained to welcome the competition with open arms and look at your opponents as friends, not enemies. Over the years I’ve lost countless matches to people that had quickly become my friends. I’ve accepted that their best had beat my best fair and square, and perhaps a rematch will come along down the road. More importantly, it’s a memory shared and perhaps a friend made.
I’m quite sure he’ll never remember the match I played him, but I was lucky enough to bowl against a legend in the bowling world in only my second or third year playing the tournament tour with Masters. I remember it so clearly that I remember the exact lanes it took place on. I played Fraser Hambly at Echo Bowl in Brantford on lanes 3 and 4. Fraser had the lead on me after nine frames. I’m sure there have been hundreds of previous bowlers that he had in the same position. I picked up my ball to throw the tenth, stepped off the lane and took a breath. The game could still be won but chances were slim. I feel a hand on my shoulder, stopping me from stepping onto the lane. The words were so simply said, but so unbelievably confusing to me at the time. “You’re dropping your shoulder. Keep that shoulder up.” was all he said. Two simple sentences that impacted me more than he’d ever imagine. The reason why I believe he’d never remember that exchange was simple. It’s probably something he’d done all the time. No different than the last time he said something similar to an opponent. But the first time I’d ever heard something like that. I’ve tried to take that, and do the same to others I’ve crossed paths with. I’ve lost games from telling someone something they were doing wrong and I’ve joked that I need to learn to stop doing that because I get burned every time. The truth is I won’t stop because that’s just the way we as bowlers have been taught to play. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to start a type of media that I hope someone will find useful. Whether they take the stuff that’s been written and apply it to their game to improve it, or to just have something that they find to be a good read. I’m not sitting here thinking I’m the one that will give you all the vast knowledge needed to take your game to whatever your desired level is. I’m surely not bright enough to make that happen. I do, however, hope that with some help from other bowlers, that this spot here can make a difference. I hope that when it’s all said and done, I could have some impact to another bowler along the same lines as Fraser did with me.
I know there are a lot of people that have something that can be contributed to this project. I’m only one person and I know that strength is in the numbers. I’d like to dedicate this space to everything to do with bowling. Whether it be something from bowling’s past, upcoming tournaments or current tournament results, tips and techniques or latest happenings in the bowling world. I know there’s a lot of material out there across the country that can be put to good use. I urge anyone with any ideas, information or suggestions to please feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We could use a common resource across the country and my aim is to provide that. While you’re at it, pass this along to other bowlers and maybe we can start something worthwhile.